Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Conservation Committee Meeting

Jan. 25, 2006

Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744

BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 25th day of January, 2006, there came to be heard matters under the regulatory authority of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission in the Commission Hearing Room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex, to wit:





COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Okay. Let me call the Conservation Committee to order. Excuse me, I wasn't prepared. We have the minutes. Anybody have any comments on the minutes?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: I have a couple of quick ones if I could. Can I hand these to you? Page 23, the word "except" should be "to implement." Page 50, line 24, strike the word "spot the last."

Okay. Item number 1, land and water plan update, Bob Cook.

MR. COOK: All right. Just one item that I want to tell you about. The Texas coast recently experienced a red tide, a high concentration of algae species from the Corpus Christi to South Padre Island. TPWD Coastal Fisheries biologists worked in cooperation with the Texas Department of the State Health Services, UT Pan Am, Coastal Studies Lab, Texas Co-op Extension, Padre Island National Seashore, and UT Marine Sciences to monitor the concentration of red tide and associated fish kills.

Water samples were taken and analyzed daily for a three-month period, which allowed TPWD the ability to disseminate current information to the public via press releases, E-mail, telephone, and daily updates to the website and our 800 number. This algae bloom provided the opportunity for TPWD to cooperate via sample collection with ongoing scientific investigation of the red tide blooms conducted by Texas A&M University and the UT Marine Sciences Institute.

Another one of those areas that occurs along our coast, people always hear about them, people are concerned about can they fish, can they go to the beach, that kind of thing. So we're trying to collect information and provide information along with several other of those agencies.


MR. COOK: That's it.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Okay. Thank you for your presentation.

Okay. We're going to wait on item 2. We'll go to item 3, Jack Bauer, East Texas conservation projects. Is that you and Andy Jones now?

MR. COOK: I believe that one has been withdrawn, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Okay. Item number 4, Jack Bauer, or, excuse me, Ted Hollingsworth.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Good morning, Commissioners. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. I'm here this morning to brief you on a proposed transfer of a portion of Lake Brownwood State Park to the entity from which it was originally acquired, the Brown County Water Improvement District.

Lake Brownwood State Park is in Brown County, very near the geographic center of the state. The park consists of 537 acres that was transferred to the State Parks Board in 1934. It is a CCC park. Proposed for transfer is an area that has been used since 1952 as a Girl Scout camp. That transfer, as proposed, would consist of about 47 acres.

In this close-up, the orange area actually represents the area currently under lease to the Girl Scouts. What would be proposed for transfer is in that green and represents the area where they have actually constructed facilities and conduct the vast majority of their programs. It is their use area.

The situation is this. The Girl Scout camp area has been under lease to the Girl Scouts since 1952. Currently, it is leased to the Girl Scouts on two-year cycles. The Girl Scouts would really prefer a much longer lease. It would help them secure funding to improve those facilities and add facilities. Staff has concerns with a longer lease.

The Brown County Water Improvement District has agreed that if we will transfer that property to them, they will enter into a long term lease with the Girl Scouts. The Girl Scouts and staff here at the department feel like that would be in the best interests both of the Girl Scouts and of the department.

With your authorization, we would proceed in accordance with our current land transfer policies, which include publishing a notice of the proposed transfer, soliciting input to the public, developing a transfer instrument, and then reporting back to you. We would shoot for the April Commission meeting to report back to you on those results and offer you the opportunity at that time to consummate the transfer.

With that, I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Any questions, discussion?

COMMISSIONER BROWN: Have they not worked out all the terms of the lease or the — you say here, tentatively indicated. recovery.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Well, the water improvement district, which would get the property back, with a reversion clause that the property would be added back to the state park should the Girl Scouts ever cease to operate the Girl Scout camp, we've agreed in principle to those points and to them leasing the land under long term back to the Girl Scouts. We have not developed the physical instrument. We would do that upon your authorization to proceed today.



(No response.)

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: If there are no further questions or discussion, I authorize staff to obtain appraisals, explore options, and begin the public notice and input process. Thank you, Ted.


COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: We're going to go back to agenda item number 2, Todd McMakin.

MR. STRUTT: Good morning, Commissioners. My name is Michael Strutt. I'm the director of Cultural Resources for the department. With me today is Mr. Todd McMakin, who is a cultural resources coordinator working for us out of the Tyler office. He's going to talk to you this morning about a very exciting research project at Mission Tejas State Park.

I know that Commissioner Montgomery has some interest in this one. This is a really very, very interesting and important archaeological site that you all helped us purchase about two years ago.

MR. McMAKIN: Hello. Hopefully, let's see if I can get this figured out. For those of you who are not familiar with Mission Tejas State Park, let me give you an idea of exactly where we're talking about. We're deep in the heart of East Texas. If you were to take a triangle and draw a line from Rusk to Palestine along the railroad, and drew the southern part of the triangle directly south of that, you would come up with Mission Tejas State Park. We're right near Davy Crockett National Forest.

The park was created by the CCC in order to commemorate the mission that was thought to exist on the property at that time. We have found since then that the mission does not exist on the property. The picture you're seeing here is a commemorative mission built by the CCC. We have since gone back and found that there are archaeological remains on the property that are of immense importance to us, that we can interpret for the public. We're going to talk about that.

To give you some background on this, I presented to you, about three years ago, about possibly purchasing this 291 acres immediately adjacent to the existing park. The reason for the purchase was not for natural resources so much as it was that we thought that there was a potential that a contact period Caddo Indian site might be located on the property. We were hoping that that might be the case. We went out and did a rudimentary survey, what we call a reconnaissance survey on the property and identified one site that had the potential for that contact period.

The contact period site that we're talking about is related to the Nabedache Caddo. The Nabedache Caddo was a very large village site along San Pedro Creek. An archaeological survey on the existing park in 1994 identified several sites along the floodplain of that part of the park that appeared to relate to that Nabedache Caddo village.

We had a survey done in 2003 that identified three potential sites on the new 291 acres that seemed to fit the right period for the Nabedache Caddo. What we were getting out of the site at that point were Caddo Indian ceramics that have a rather long antiquity, but appeared to date to the correct period.

Now, we jump forward to 2005. Last year, we had archaeological testing done of those three sites to see if we could find that smoking gun, if you will, to make sure that we had the village site on the property. What we needed were European trade goods, some type of metal artifacts that would tell us that the Europeans had been there on that site. Success — we found what we were looking for. We found those smoking guns. We found the artifacts that we need to identify that site.

What we have here in this picture, you'll see that we have some 16th and 17th century artifacts of Spanish derivation and we're going to talk about those more in detail here in just a second. The Spanish artifacts that we found ranged from metal artifacts to beads, trade beads. What we're looking at in this picture, if you look on the left-hand side, you can see the cock spur from a flintlock rifle. You can also see the butt piece of that same rifle or a rifle similar to it. Now, the butt piece is very important here because that actually gives us a more definitive date for the artifacts that we were pulling out. It puts it right smack dab exactly where we hoped it would be, right at the end of the 15th century and into the 16th and 17th centuries.

On the top part, the top right-hand picture, you're looking at two musket balls and also a sprue piece which is used for cutting out the metal for those balls. On the bottom, that is a Spanish spur. You can measure the length of the tines on the spur to identify what period it comes from. It is from the correct period as well.

Here are some of the trade beads that were identified on the site as well. These are all from the correct period and these are very, very similar to the beads that were coming off the Belle shipwreck down on the coast. You guys have probably heard plenty about that.

We have a metal hull that dates to the correct period. The artifacts on the right are utilitarian objects. You have up in the top left-hand corner of that picture, you have part of a trigger plate from a musket. You have, the top right-hand corner is part of a bit, a horse's bit. The bottom left-hand corner is a button that appears to date from the right period. The bottom

right-hand corner is a brass kettle fragment. All of these date to the correct period that we were looking for.

The Caddo ceramics that came off of the site, again, are generally, they're all from the correct period, but they have a longer antiquity than the metal artifacts so they're a little bit harder to date exactly.

Conclusions — we do have a Nabedache Caddo village on the park. Little was known about the contact period and only a handful of archaeological sites have been excavated in the state of Texas that date to this period. So we have something very, very useful and something very important on our property.

Now, what we have to determine is what are we going to do with what we've found. I know Commissioner Montgomery expressed a lot of interest in this project and wanted to know exactly what we could do with the findings. How would we interpret this to the public?

Well, we had a meeting at Mission Tejas State Park with the regional director, Ellen Buchanan, the park manager, and also the regional interpretive specialist and we talked about this. The plans are, at this point, to possibly add an interpretive trail near the archaeological sites where we can identify these — not specifically to the public because we can't tell the exact locations of these sites, but at least tell about the area — add signage about the resource, and then tie this into the history of our historic site just down the road, Caddoan Mountain State Historic Site, which is of a different period, but the same general group of people, the Caddoan Indians obviously. And then, we're going to use a timeline approach for the whole park right on up into the historic period.

That is the end. I'll be happy to take some questions.


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: I might just make a remark. When this came up to us to purchase, for those of you that weren't on the Commission, the issue was — are we going to buy this land and do nothing with it? This represented the potential for the juncture between the Caddoan civilization and the early European civilization. It's the only site we had in the system to provide that representation. The commitment that the park division made was to get it to the point where we knew what we had and to be prepared to seek funding, whether the state had it or not, so that we could provide the interpretation of that huge hinge of history when we became a European civilization here.

So I want to thank you all, on behalf of all of us, for following through on the commitment, even during a very difficult period in the history of the park division, of doing that. It's an exciting find. You know, I told you at the time, I knew of a few foundations who I think may have an interest in something like this. I hope the next step is to develop a grant proposal to develop an interpretative center and display that's appropriate, as well as continue the archaeology. I suspect there will be interest in this, given the representation, now the defined representation, of such an important early stage of Texas history.

MR. McMAKIN: Well, I certainly hope that we can go forward with looking into a grant. One thing that I meant to mention in this as well is that I went to Binger, Oklahoma, and met with the Caddo nation after this project was finished. The Caddo have shown a strong interest, not only in this project, but also in the parks that we have in east Texas that would be considered the Caddo homeland, in terms of they are the surviving remnants, obviously the ancestors, of the people that were there before. They are a unique resource that we can work with them and talk with them about this more. Hopefully, we can pursue more avenues.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Thank you very much. Any further questions or comments?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Thank you all for seeing it through.

(All talking at once.)

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Okay. We'll go on to the next. We have number 5, land transfer Hidalgo County, Scott.

MR. BORUFF: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, for the record, my name is Scott Boruff, deputy executive director of operations. Here today to brief you on this and ask for you to place this item on the agenda for tomorrow, relative to a land transfer in Hidalgo County relative to the World Birding Center.

As you may or may not know, the 76th Legislature directed us to support the development of the World Birding Center in the Valley. The state was directed to put $2 million into three sites, one of which we're going to talk about today at Weslaco, Texas, called the Estero Llano Grande site.

This site has — I'm going to put the picture up here. I don't know if you can see it real good. If you prefer, I will pass this around, or hold it up. I don't know what will work best to give you an idea.

This is a site that originally was a portion of a wildlife management area called the Adams Unit of the Las Palomas Wildlife Management Area. Several years ago, we swapped that with some state park land called Arroyo Colorado in order to develop this state park, which is going to be part of the World Birding Center.

We have expended the $2 million we were directed to expend by the legislature. I'm going to show you some pictures here in a moment of some of the headquarters that have been developed there. The requirement for the local entities was to match whatever money that the state put in, up to $2 million. The city of Weslaco decided to purchase a piece of property adjacent to the land.

Now, for purposes of this, this is the World Birding Center site that we have developed. This little red representation up here in the corner is where we built the headquarters. There are wetlands that have developed with trails that run throughout, which allow people then to walk out through the wetlands to see the birds and so forth out here.

The city of Weslaco, several years ago, seven years ago, I believe, purchased what's called the Lakeview Trailer Park — it's right here — with the intent of vacating the trailer park and transferring it to Parks and Wildlife as their match for the World Birding Center project. The city has — and here are some pictures of the Lakeview Trailer Park. This is really a beautiful habitat and you can't really see that in the pictures, but this is one of the few areas in the Valley where some of the original natural habitat is still intact.

When the city came to us, like I say, seven years ago, and offered this property up as a match, our response to them was we would be glad to take the property as a match, but we were not willing to be in the trailer home business. If they were willing to deal with getting that property vacated and donated to us, we'd be glad to take it, but we did not want to be engaged in the negotiations with the residents regarding how they were going to move out and those kind of things.

The reality is, over the last six years, this has been quite a contentious issue down in the Valley, particularly in Weslaco, and I wouldn't be surprised if you gentlemen haven't heard some of this, and wouldn't be surprised if you hear some more of it tomorrow at the public hearing, assuming that you put this on the agenda.

The city has recently taken some pretty active steps to try to get the residents out of the trailer park. The residents have resisted. There have been a couple of lawsuits. My understanding is they both have been dismissed, but there are continuing efforts on some of the residents' parts to prevent this from happening.

On the other hand, we have kind of tried to keep arm's length from this process. Despite attempts to draw us into the process, we have said this is a local issue. If the city wants to do this, that's their business. They continue to say they want to use this as their match.

The process we've gone through is to work with them to identify portions of this park which are currently vacant. There are approximately 80 or 90 trailer park sites in the trailer park, about 60 percent of which are vacant. The proposal that will come before you tomorrow, assuming you put it on the agenda, would be to authorize the executive director — assuming we get to the point where we're comfortable with this — to accept those lots that are vacant at this point.

The city's intent is to ultimately give us all the land, but they have about 60 percent of this property vacant. They have been having some trouble managing it. Their intent is to move it to us as soon as possible.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: So we would get 60 percent of it roughly?

MR. BORUFF: Right now.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: And manage it and everything?

MR. BORUFF: We do have management on site. We do have a park manager who's here every day.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Oh, we do already?

MR. BORUFF: We do manage what we currently own.


MR. BORUFF: I will tell you that the city has already transferred to us the front five acres of this trailer park, which is not inhabited. It has good habitat on it. About a year ago, they transferred this five acres to us. There's about 18 acres in the vacant lots in the park they would prefer to transfer to us now.

They also wanted, at one point, to transfer some of the common areas. There's a swimming pool there, and there's a meeting room, and those kind of things. Our response is we would like to not have those until it's completely clear. We don't want to manage the trailer park issues.

We do think ultimately, assuming the city can work out its differences with the residents and get this land cleared, that this would be a good addition.

COMMISSIONER BROWN: Are these contiguous acres that are currently not being used for trailer park? Or are they just spotted and scattered around?

MR. BORUFF: They're scatted to some extent. What we did is try to go in and in a reasonable fashion pick out portions of the park that had multiple trailer park sites we could survey together and transfer at one time. So they're not all contiguous.

COMMISSIONER FRIEDKIN: What's involved in terms of habitat development of that site, the amount that we would get? What do we need to do?

MR. BORUFF: We probably would not do very much over here. The habitat that is there is pretty impressive. We spent most of our money and effort out here. This, before, was a big sunflower field. And so we've gone out there and contoured it and added water control features to be able to lower and raise the water level for different kinds of bird species. Most of our energy in terms of habitat restoration and those kinds of things has and would continue to occur out here.

Our idea here is if we could just get this — our message to the city was this is good habitat. If it were vacant, we would be glad to accept it.

MR. COOK: It's a long term project. We wouldn't do anything with that habitat in there until it's completely cleaned up. We're not going to push on these folks. Some of these folks have been there a while. There's a real high turnover in occupants at the park. Had the city, five or six years ago, when we agreed to this thing, had they not allowed new visitors to come in, we wouldn't be having this question today.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: This could have been done through attrition —

MR. COOK: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: — if they had capped it at a certain day.

MR. COOK: Which is what we suggested, what we recommended.

MR. BORUFF: Actually, the city agreed to that six years ago. Unfortunately, there had been a lot of turnover in city management in Weslaco in my six years at the agency. We're on our third mayor and fourth city manager.

MR. COOK: But now they have asked us to accept these groups of sites and I think that's probably a positive step. We're not going to go in and disturb them, do anything. We won't accept them unless they're completely cleaned off, nothing there.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Unoccupied is the term.


MR. BORUFF: We're not accepting anything that's —

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Why do you want to do it piecemeal, because you can argue, theoretically, that you can wait until Weslaco finally gets rid of everybody and gets rid of 100 percent?

MR. BORUFF: We'd like to accomplish it this century.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: I think it locks the deal in.

MR. COOK: I think it supports the city's commitment.


MR. COOK: Yes. It precludes future occupation.


COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Will this subject our staff that's running the facility to any confrontational issues or anything of that nature?

MR. COOK: Not really. We've, you know, the possibility exists. For example, there's some folks there that we would like to incorporate into our volunteer program. They're great birders, you know. We just need to get in a position where we can do that. It has been, like Scott says, the turnover there in the community, in leadership in the community and in the park itself, has made it very difficult.

MR. BORUFF: This is something we've literally been working on full time for five or six years. So we're kind of pleased to get to this point. I think it will signal to everybody that this is a project that's a serious project.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: It is going to happen.

MR. COOK: We have refused consistently to be any part of pushing anybody out, you know. Just give it some time. It will work out. We've consistently said that for six years.

MR. BORUFF: One correction. This is not on the agenda for tomorrow. We are seeking permission for us to go out to public hearings so that we could put this on the next agenda.

MR. COOK: Yes, we need to go out to public meetings.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Any further questions or discussion?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: If there are no further questions or discussion, I'll ask staff to obtain appraisals, explore options, and begin the public notice and input process.

We are on to item number 6, Ann Bright, Big Bend State Ranch task force and advisory committee rules amendment.

MS. BRIGHT: Good morning. I'm Ann Bright, general counsel. I'm here to talk about a couple of proposed amendments to the advisory committee rules. As we've discussed before, the Parks and Wildlife Code authorizes the chairman to appoint advisory committees to the Commission. The Government Code, the Texas Government Code imposes some requirements on these advisory committees, such as the fact that all these advisory committees that are governed by the Government Code have to have rules for each advisory committee.

In August, the Commission approved the adoption of rules regarding 24 advisory committees. These rules became effective in September.

We're here to propose, and tomorrow we will be requesting approval, of the addition of a new advisory committee, the Big Bend Ranch State Park task force. It would consist of individuals that have an interest in Big Bend State Park, including members of the public, representatives of governmental bodies, and representatives of

non-governmental organizations. As with the other advisory committees, the members would be appointed by the chairman.

This task force would also be subject to the normal rules we have regarding advisory committees, annual evaluation, selection of a presiding officer by members, membership limit of 24 individuals, and a four-year life unless extended by rule. I should point out that all of these requirements actually come from the Government Code.

We're also requesting the approval of another kind of committee and I don't even know if we'd actually call these advisory committees. The advisory committees that we have been dealing with so far are really kind of broad issue advisory committees. They're intended to advise the Commission on a broad range of topics, not just rules, but a broad range of topics concerning each of the various subjects of the advisory committees.

The Administrative Procedure Act, which is the law that governs rulemaking, authorizes a state agency to informally consult with members of the public and to obtain opinions from experts and interested parties about rulemaking matters. We're requesting authorization for the executive director to appoint these informal ad hoc committees in connection with rulemaking.

This will enable us to — it will clarify our ability to assemble groups whenever we have a rulemaking package just for the purpose of rulemaking. These ad hoc committees would be appointed by the executive director to advise the department about rulemaking. They would serve at the will of the executive director. To make sure that these are really just rulemaking advisory committees, they would continue for no longer than a year unless reappointed.

We received no public comment on either one of these proposals. This is the motion that we will be presenting to you tomorrow.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: On the ad hoc committee, the rulemaking process is cumbersome. How would these recommendations of the ad hoc committees flow through to the Commission?

MS. BRIGHT: I would think it would depend on what the rule was, what kind of rules we're talking about. You know, there are some groups that represent such a very small portion of a population. For example — and this is probably not a good example — and a lot of times, there are other groups that already exist that we can talk with. For example, on boating rules, I think that there is an industry group that we consult with on a regular basis about their rules. They're really not necessarily an advisory committee, but we also want to make sure that they know what we're doing.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Or the licensed retailers, for instance.

MS. BRIGHT: Licensed retailers, that's another good example.

MR. COOK: Let me give you another example of one that I'm working with right now. Again, we do this, and this is just I think, Ann, to clarify that it's okay to do it this way.

MS. BRIGHT: And that these really aren't —

MR. COOK: I called together a group of canoe and kayak paddlers here a while back. They kind of called me as a matter of fact. I said, Why don't you all come in and let's talk. So in dealing with some of the issues that come up, some of the ideas that we have, some thoughts we want to explore. I think this just gives that authority for Cook or the executive director here to say, You all come in, and sit down with me, and let's talk about this.

Then, to respond to the chairman's question, which I think is a good question, you know, some of those ideas, some of those thoughts, you may not hear about. It may die right there. If it starts building, if we believe that there's reason to consider it further, we would certainly bring it to you and have that group possibly in the audience to either nod their heads or —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: My question specifically is —

MS. BRIGHT: If it's a —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: — would this come up through the staff?

MS. BRIGHT: It is. It would be basically dealing with staff. Now, if there is a commissioner-appointed, chairman-appointed advisory committee that has jurisdiction over that area, I would assume that the rule would also go through that group as well.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: This is something I've been trying to get some control over since the Sunset, is that there is communication between these groups. The example is the Coastal Resource advisory committee that Mark Watson is chairing has representatives from all the smaller, how shall I say, more specialized groups, like the oyster group and the like. So that everybody knows what the other one is saying, in that when I get a recommendation or the Commission gets a recommendation we know those other groups have been involved.

MS. BRIGHT: This is —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: How do make sure this works that way?

MS. BRIGHT: I don't know that there's an answer other than just we commit to communicating with these various groups. This is really a sort of a cross the t and dot the i kind of proposal, in that we're really not looking at anything that would compete or necessarily significantly — this is not to replace any of the advisory committees or to get around the current advisory committees. This is really to help staff provide better information to the current advisory committee.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: My point's a little bit more direct than that. It's the stove-piping problem. Right? We get a group over here that's starting to talk about paddling, perfect example, kayak issues. The next thing you know they've developed a whole menu of things they think are important. I have a rivers advisory council over here. They find out about it when it gets published on the agenda and the chairman of the river advisory council calls me and says, What has Cook done? We didn't know about all this.

So my point is simply this — you've got to make sure that that ad hoc group is communicating, has representation with the advisory group that has common interests.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Joseph, could you —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I've seen this happen.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: Joseph, could you do it by calling the ad hoc committee — of course the executive director would have to steer this — but call the ad hoc committee a sub-committee of the Coastal Resources?

MS. BRIGHT: One of the concerns with doing that is just the membership limit, which is each committee can only have 24 members. I mean, if you wanted to —

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: Yes, but if you could make sure that one of the ad hoc is a member of whatever advisory committee has common jurisdiction of subject matter, it's really a simple point. It's that you don't end up with a whole recommendation from the paddling community that the river advisory council is not aware of.

MS. BRIGHT: Just as a practical matter —

MR. COOK: For example, there were maybe eight or nine people that came in the other day. Four or five of them were members of that group.

MS. BRIGHT: I think as a practical matter, I mean, if we're really going to be doing our job, and we're going to seek opinions from people who have an interest in these topics about which we're looking at rulemaking, I would think necessarily it would have to include some of the members of the advisory committee. I don't see how you could do it really without some overlap.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I'm not trying to change your recommendation. I'm just saying —

MS. BRIGHT: Right.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: — I want the staff to hear what I'm saying. I'm sure —

MS. BRIGHT: We'll communicate that to the staff that are charged with this advisory committee so for sure —

MR. COOK: Usually, the topics, you know, are pretty specific, pretty much a reaction to something that we can get together and comment down right quick or direct it toward the larger committee.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: This is just a coordination issue, more than —

VOICE: It's a management issue.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: — but isn't this also legitimizing a practice that's already in place?

MR. COOK: Ongoing, every day.


MR. COOK: Every day.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Any more questions or discussion?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Ann, thank you. We are — let's see, Number 6. If there are no further questions or discussion, I'll place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Walt Dabney, number 7, transfer of Lake Houston State Park to the city of Houston.

MR. DABNEY: Good morning, Commissioners. I'm Walt Dabney, state park director, and I'm here to talk to you about the proposal to transfer Lake Houston State Park. Lake Houston, the park is just under 5,000 acres located in New Caney, right on the boundary of the city of Houston. In fact, it's about half in the city of Houston. It lies in both Harris and Montgomery counties.

The park was purchased from Champion Paper in 1981 and we've been managing it ever since. It's a beautiful place, lots of great habitat there. A lot of it is in the floodplain. Activities that are taking place there now are pretty consistent with a natural area in a state park.

The revenues generated there are about $41,000, $42,000 a year and our costs about $180,000-plus a year. We've never been able to fully develop and open this site. The way it's laid out, the development, which is a neat camp area with barracks and that kind of thing, you have to come into it in an odd way because you can't get across the creek to the main part of the park. We needed to put a bridge in there. We've never been able to do any of that kind of thing because we've not had any new development type of money.

House Bill 2108 allows us to negotiate and transfer sites from the state park system to other entities. If this one were to occur, this would be the ninth one we've done since this bill was passed. The city of Houston has, in fact, requested that we transfer the property to them and deed over the 4,900-plus acres.

We're working out the specifics. We'd work out the specifics of what equipment and so forth. We would, if this were to go through, continue to have them on our reservation system and make reservations for them. We're working out, with our staff that is there now, they would have an opportunity possibly to go work for the city of Houston, if they wanted to stay there, or, in fact, we've already placed two of them, maybe three, in other jobs around the state park system.

What this would do, the deed guarantees that this will not change in its character as a park. They can't do that. They can't sell it. They can't — they have to preserve the historical and cultural and natural resources that are there. It won't be a state park any more, but in the specific agreement that we would craft with the city and we've already talked about it, we would lay out very careful restrictions on how it could be used, what kind of developments would be in there, and so forth. There's a reverter clause that if they do not in fact abide by this agreement it comes back to us.

We asked you before, related to the ability to start negotiations with Houston, we've been doing that. On December 5, we did have, in fact, a public meeting near the park. We had 107 people there. You could register either with an opinion or you were for it or against it. As you see 23 of the 107 folks registered that they were in fact in favor of it, eight said they were opposed to it. We've since received written comments, 15 written comments, with six being opposed.

We recommend that this be placed on the agenda and the staff feels that the city of Houston would do a good job in operating this park. The park would stay completely available, even maybe more so available, to the people in that area. So there would be no net loss of park lands as a result of this. And so it's a positive situation. This is a very valuable piece of property, needless to say, and a great, huge open space area that is quickly being surrounded by developments.

With that, I'd be glad to answer any questions you might have.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Any questions or discussion?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: If there's no questions or discussion, I place the item on Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Sounds like it's very well handled, Walt.

MR. DABNEY: Thank you, sir.



COMMISSIONER BROWN: What about the mineral situation on that property?

MR. DABNEY: I don't think we own any of the minerals.

Jack, do we own the minerals on Lake Houston?

MR. BAUER: No, sir.

MR. DABNEY: All right.

MR. BAUER: Maybe on a piece, two acres.

MR. DABNEY: If we did, we'd want to keep them.


COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Okay. Item number 8, Jack Bauer, land donation in Brewster County in Black Gap Wildlife Management Area.

MR. BAUER: Good morning. I'm Jack Bauer, director of Land Conservation. This item is to request permission to accept land as additions to Black Gap Wildlife Management Area. Black Gap, as you probably are aware, is about 100,000 acres in Brewster County that sits in with a complex of other federal and international land conservation properties that are very important to that desert and high desert country between us and Mexico.

Big Bend National Park is about 900,000 acres, sits partially adjacent to Black Gap. Across the river to the south is an area in private property operated by CEMIX Corporation, called El Carmen. Between these three properties, actually are now being identified as a real conservation hot spot internationally.

It's basically the high country, an island of habitat that rises out of the desert. What's important here from the standpoint of habitat and wildlife populations is the travel that occurs between these large conservation lands.

At Black Gap over the last ten years, we've done a lot of work to change what the property looks like, trying to solve inholding and access problems. This is a Commission agenda item map going back to 2003 that details the lay of the land there and some of the problems that we've been faced with. The little units of polygons that you see within that are individual sections of land. Those with crosshatch, that in 2003 were owned by the Permanent School Fund. The white areas was Parks and Wildlife ownership within Black Gap.

We had come to you at that point in time with a proposal to accept a donation of the pink property, which was coming to us from The Nature Conservancy, a property known as Brushy Canyon. We had about 80,000 acres, with 26,000 acres of GLO land interspersed through us at the time. The 10,000-acre Brushy Canyon was a pretty significant addition to the property at the time.

If you notice in that pink area, a lot of little white inholdings that are private property. As we addressed at that time, it would be a motive of the agency to continue to try to acquire those private inholdings. The idea now of a conservation effort involving Big Bend National Park, and El Carmen, and Big Bend Ranch State Park, again, solving of these inholdings are important to wildlife populations. We've got black bear and desert bighorn sheep programs going there. Private lands, domestic animals intermixed with that, are all things that are very important to us and of concern.

Yes, sir, Mr. Cook?

MR. COOK: Jack, from this distance, the area you refer to as pink, is that, it looks brown to me?

MR. BAUER: It's the —

MR. COOK: Down there in that lower left corner?

MR. BAUER: It's the lower left, the southwest portion of the areas.

MR. COOK: It's got the white spots in it. And the crosshatch section, you said was GLO land, public school land?

MR. BAUER: That is correct.

MR. COOK: What's the kind of shaded gray?

MR. BAUER: That was a prior organization mechanism of inholdings that we came to you with that were either low, medium, or high value from the standpoint of trying to acquire. Over the last ten years, we have actually picked up about 5,000 acres of those sections inside of Black Gap.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Where is the one that you're recommending we accept?

MR. BAUER: I'll show it to you on the next slide.


MR. BAUER: I wanted to give you this background. The other big transaction that we have done and completed last fall was the land trade of the GLO properties within Black Gap and our land. So now there are still some privately held holdings within our Black Gap, but the GLO inholdings have now all been moved and the ownership looks like this now, where Black Gap is, we still have privately held inholdings, but we have no GLO inholdings. And so does the GLO; they have no TPWD inholdings at this time.

The property that we're looking at to accept a donation is in that Brushy Canyon area at the end of the red arrow in this picture. What has been offered to us is from the Desert Bighorn Society. A ten-acre donation that was picked up on a tax sale in the last six weeks or so.

I thought it important just to reiterate some of the benefits that we have received, as an agency, from this organization over the last few years and it continues to be. In that TPWD-GLO land trade, they donated $200,000 to go toward the purchase of additional GLO land so we could add to our base of lands at Black Gap. They continue to work as volunteers with us on Desert Bighorn sheep programs and continue to offer funds for us to carry out the operational needs at places like Sierra Diablo, Black Gap, and Elephant Mountain.

Relative to land and water plan, this donation as an inholding, continues to carry on the work that we've done at Black Gap, to acquire inholdings, being 10 acres on the extreme boundary but within a desired boundary line. We'll require no additional staff. Our authority is identified here.

Relative to public input, we did advertise in the local paper. We have had opposition from one family who is our neighbor, an adjacent land owner to this. I understand he also bid on the property and he has had input both to us by two or three E-mails, but also to staff out in the Alpine area.

I would be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Questions or discussion?

His opposition was simply that he wanted to buy it and didn't want us to buy it. Is that it?

MR. BAUER: The opposition primarily was that he felt that we did not have any reason to have that ten acres.


COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Just to make sure I understand this. The Bighorn Sheep Society donated —


MR. COOK: Yes, sir, and they're donating it to us.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: And did they pay $200,000 for it?

MR. BAUER: No, sir.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: What did they pay for —

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: They contributed 200 for other acquisitions.


MR. COOK: Uh-huh.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: The 200,000 relates to what they donated to the agency in that TPWD and GLO land trade. So it actually went toward the purchase of Bighorn habitat in Black Gap that was GLO property?

MR. COOK: As I recall, that $200,000 bought about 1,500 acres.

MR. BAUER: Actually even more than that. It was more like we picked up an extra 5,000 acres in some contribution we had in wildlife funds plus theirs. So the overall transaction, we picked up in Black Gap about 5,000 acres.


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Bighorn Society has been fabulous. Clay Brewer is back here, be sure to thank them for us, all the good work they're doing. We appreciate this donation. Anything else on this one?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: If there's no further comment, I'll place the item on Thursday's Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

We're now on agenda item number 9, land donation, Hamilton County, Scott Boruff.

MR. BORUFF: Mr. Chairman, Commissioners, once again, my name is Scott Boruff, deputy executive director of Operations. I'm here to talk to you about a land donation for a game warden academy in Hamilton County.

About a year ago, the Police Activities League, which operates a facility in Hamilton County, came to us and started talking to us about donating some land there that they currently own, which they historically have used to run this PAL Ranch. As you can see here, the mission of the PAL organization is to help deter juvenile crime by putting young folks in a situation where they and law enforcement officers can work together and learn about each other.

They currently would like to donate a portion of a 245-acre piece of land that they own in Hamilton County to us for use as a game warden academy and law enforcement education facility. The proposal that you will see before you is to transfer this property to Texas Parks and Wildlife so that we can develop the infrastructure and implement law enforcement training activities there. They would keep about 25 acres of this 245-acre parcel and would continue to operate their PAL activities adjacent to us were this transaction to happen.

There's a map here that shows you where this land is located. Law enforcement has been closely engaged in this process and has indicated a strong desire, assuming we can work out the details, to move to this facility. This kind of shows you in more detail where the property is located. There is a, Lampasas River does run through the property. There are some water features there.

One of the things we would like you to know is that the current facility over on 51st Street here in Austin is not in the best shape. It is not large enough for us to do what we need to do. We have, for several years, been looking for alternatives to move the academy to a more appropriate facility.

This property currently does have quite a bit of infrastructure out there, including a large cafeteria and a really good-sized kitchen that is used to preparing meals for large groups of people. As I said, there are water facilities out there. There are several bunkhouses that would require some work in order to make ready for the game warden academy.

This gives you a detailed picture of the property. I don't know how well you can see it, but on the bottom piece of the property with the — I guess I'll call those orange lines — that polygon represents the 24 acres that the PAL activities league would retain. The larger yellow polygon represents the entire 245-acre tract.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: There's a separate easement entrance — is that right? — to the PAL?

MR. BORUFF: It does not now, but that is our proposal.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: That's the proposal that I see outlined?

MR. BORUFF: Yes, sir. That's a proposal. That's why you notice that narrow strip running up to the main highway. We are still in negotiations with the PAL group about how this would all happen, all the details, but our proposal is to give them an easement, which would allow them to build a road directly up to their property.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: What do they want to do with that 25 acres? Do we know?

MR. BORUFF: They want to continue operating their PAL activities league. The proposal they pitched us is they would like to retain a small acreage. In this case, we've kind of carved this out. It has the acreage that's been mutually agreeable, 25 acres. For six weeks during the summer, they would like to continue to use the facilities that are on the other 220 acres, which we would, assuming you gentlemen concur, ultimately own.

So for six weeks in the summer each year, the PAL organization would be able to come over, use the bunkhouses, use the kitchen, and so forth to operate their Police Activities League operation. Once again, this is assuming we can get the details. As with many of these things, the devil is in the details.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: How is that funded, that Police Activities League?

MR. BORUFF: I'm not really sure exactly of their funding. They are essentially a franchise of a national organization. There are PAL organizations all over the country and there are more than one in the state of Texas by the way. So I think they are local organizations of police, law enforcement organizations, particularly local police and sheriff's groups that get together and decide they want to do these kind of things, and apply for funding through their national organization.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: It's a 501(c)(3) though?

MR. BORUFF: I suspect it is, yes, sir.

MR. COOK: The group that we've been dealing with is primarily out of Houston.

MR. BORUFF: The leadership, the board, you know, they have their board meetings in Houston. Their chairman of the board and a couple of key members of their board are out of Houston, but I'm not exactly sure of their funding mechanism. I do know they're part of a national organization that draws its funds from that organization.

MR. COOK: Their funding mechanism is very inadequate.

MR. BORUFF: I think what prompted this proposal is they were financially unable to maintain this size of facility. As I said, the devil's in the detail. We currently are looking at, as I said, an arrangement which allows them to keep 25 acres. They would retain ownership of their implements, their tractors and their lawn mowers and those kind of things that are out there.

An agreement that we would accept would be limited use, of course, on the facilities as I described, being able to use the bunkhouses and the kitchen for six weeks during the summer. We have some reversion clauses in there, which would, of course, if we discontinued use as a law enforcement facility, it would go back to PAL. If they discontinued use of their facility as what they do, it would come to us.

There are some additional infrastructure needs out there. We could not move out there and use it exactly as it is. We do have authority, as you will recall, from the legislature to sell the facility on 51st Street and use that funding at a new facility. So our intent ultimately would be, should you approve the transaction, would be to sell the facility on 51st Street and use those funds to go out there to the facility and revamp it to the extent we could with those funds, and then to begin a fundraising campaign to try to add additional facilities over time.

Our intent would be, if we could make this happen, is to have a world class game warden academy out there that has everything that the game wardens need. Right now, for example, some of their training has to be done off site. They don't have water features over on 51st Street. They've got two or three acres and it's packed. So they have to go out and do things elsewhere.

This facility, we believe, would allow us to, over time, create a world class academy and more. The academy typically only lasts six months a year, but there are all kinds of law enforcement training activities that go on year-round that could be accomplished at this facility. There are — I've listed here some of the infrastructure needs that we would ultimately want to raise money for and put on the ground out there, an administrative building, classrooms for classes, and a gymnasium, and so forth.

We have had a public hearing. I'm going to skip over that slide and we left a slide off here, but we have had a public hearing just a couple of weeks ago, I believe. The feedback was very positive. I think the law enforcement staff, as they went into some of the local communities at Hamilton and other places, got a lot of positive feedback from business leaders in that area and the local citizens.

So, at this point, we have before you a proposal which would, if you put this on the agenda tomorrow, to authorize the executive director to accept this property, assuming we can get all these details worked out and legal documents in place that would protect us.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Questions or discussion? Thank you, Scott.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I do have one question. Do you have any idea of the cost savings of not having to outsource the swift water rescue, and shooting, and all the things that you have to go off site for right now?

MR. BORUFF: I don't have that detail right now, Chairman, but we could certainly put that together and get it to you.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: I'd be interested in knowing the cost savings.

COMMISSIONER HOLT: Oh, it will save us money.

COMMISSIONER PARKER: There will be significant savings there.

MR. BORUFF: I think there will be some savings because many times we have to go out and lease a piece of property in order to do water rescue and those kind of things, I believe, but it also would be a huge convenience. Obviously, everything could be centralized. Folks could come in. You could have things set up and do training after training at one site.

VOICE: That's the key to the savings.

MR. COOK: That's what we've been operating with and the guys are doing a great job, but basically we're in an old warehouse with a parking lot.


COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: We're training our people to go into rural law enforcement in an urban setting.

MR. COOK: We can send the guys to the country.

MR. BORUFF: I'm not sure the neighbors on 51st Street appreciate the jogging at 4:00 in the morning in front of their houses.

COMMISSIONER HOLMES: Scott, would PAL have the right to use the facilities in perpetuity or is there a time limitation on that?

MR. BORUFF: In perpetuity, well, that would be described by the contract. That's one of the reasons I said, until we get the contract worked out, we're still working on that. At this point that is the agreement, that they would have it in perpetuity, unless they decided not to do their business any more, in which case, obviously, the reversion clause would kick in.

COMMISSIONER BIVINS: Why do they want to maintain ownership of the property?

MR. BORUFF: Well, in speaking with their executive director yesterday, he assures me that he intends to continue to maintain their 25 acres down there; that they still need to be able to mow; they still want to be able to put a garden in and use their tractor; and those kind of things.


MR. BORUFF: We do have a couple of sticking points. Access is one of them. You know, the intent was for them to build a road down the easement that we just described for you. We are still in the negotiations about that. We don't mind them using our stuff for a while until they get their road fixed. We want to be reasonable neighbors, but we don't want to, over the long haul, for our road to be the main access for the PAL facility. So there are some things like that that we still are negotiating. Really what we're asking is, assuming you put this on the agenda for tomorrow, that the action would be to authorize Mr. Cook to accept the property assuming we can get those details worked out.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Okay. If there are no further questions or discussions, I'll place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action.

We're on item number 10, land donation, Jasper County, Corky Kuhlmann for the Jasper Fish Hatchery.

MR. KUHLMANN: Good morning, I'm Corky Kuhlmann with the Land Conservation program. This is a donation at the East Texas Fish Hatchery. This hatchery site was accepted by resolution of this commission in November 2004. The site is in Jasper County, right behind the dam of the Sam Rayburn Reservoir. The donation is for 198.5 acres from Jasper County.

If you approve this motion, this is the recommendation you'll see tomorrow. That's short and sweet.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Thank you for the brevity. Any questions or discussion?

MR. KUHLMANN: I'll be glad to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER FITZSIMONS: A good example for the Commission.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: I don't hear any questions or discussion. We are all for this one. So if there are no further questions or discussion, I'll place this item on the Thursday Commission meeting agenda for comment and action. Thank you, Corky.

All right. Number 11, let's see, excuse me. We are in executive session, okay.


COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Let me read my script correctly. We are going to adjourn and move the executive session upstairs. Do I need to read any other statement?

MR. COOK: I'm sorry.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: We're adjourning the public meeting here. We're retiring upstairs for executive session and we'll reopen the meeting.

MR. McCARTY: You're recessing.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: We're recessing the meeting, okay. Anything else?

MR. McCARTY: There's a statement you need to read from your executive book.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Excuse me. I'd like to pronounce that pursuant to the requirements of Chapter 551 of the Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings Act, an executive session will be held at this time for the purpose of consideration of real estate matters under Section 551.072 of the Texas Open Meetings Act and a consultation with general counsel under Section 551.071 of the Open Meetings Act.

(Whereupon, at 11:35 a.m., the meeting was recessed, to reconvene this same day, Wednesday, January 25, 2006, at 1:05 p.m.)

A F T E R N O O N  S E S S I O N

1:05 p.m.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: We'll reconvene. We have a quorum. We're going to reopen the Conservation Committee. We finished executive session. I apologize. I neglected to get approval of the minutes. I did read a couple of corrections in that were technical. Do we have a motion to approve the minutes?




(A chorus of ayes.)


(No response.)

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Okay. The minutes are approved.

We are now going to go to item number 11, Eagle Mountain Lake State Park and Jack Bauer is going to handle the briefing. Jack, you're on.

MR. BAUER: I'm Jack Bauer, director of Land Conservation. This item relates to the follow-up from the November meeting when you asked us to gain some information about appraisals of surface and minerals and come back to you with that information and we're prepared to do that.

As you recall, the park was purchased in the '80s, but never developed or opened to the public. We, at your direction, leased minerals in 2004 and have proceeded to have those minerals developed.

New information from the November meeting is that the annual GLO report has placed Eagle Mountain Lake on the underutilized list in that October meeting. The governor has disapproved the recommendation unless proceeds for a sale could come to Texas Parks and Wildlife state park account and included the surface of the property only. The significance of that, I think, is that any sale decision is now with the General Land Office.

We did appraise the property and what we found in 2004 is that the property has increased about 20 percent, from $6.6 to $9.2 million. If we had a conservation easement on the property, it would reduce the value to about $1.6 million. The mineral estate, present worth of future value, at a 90 percent discount rate is about $4.3 million.

The development of the minerals, as they are proceeding, having 100 percent of 358 mineral acres out of the 400-acre tract, are proceeding. There is one Parks and Wildlife well that's in production. We are sharing padsites with our neighbor to the south, the Walsh family and we have pads. From the three pads that relate to Eagle Mountain Lake State Park, there will be directional drilling for both the Walsh property and the Parks and Wildlife property from those three pads.

The mineral estate appraiser of minerals, a petroleum engineer, calculated that over 20 years, at a rate of $7.23 per thousand cubic feet, would place the net future income of about $7.2 million at a present worth today, at a discount rate again of about $4.3 million.

I think, again, relative to actions that are possible from the site, any sale action is now with the General Land Office. If you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer them.

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Any questions for Jack or discussion?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER MONTGOMERY: Okay. Jack, thank you for the briefing. That is the Conservation Committee. I'll turn the gavel over to Ned Holmes for the Education and Outreach.

(Whereupon, at 1:10 p.m., the meeting was adjourned.)


MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Conservation Committee

LOCATION: Austin, Texas

DATE: January 25, 2006

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through 55, inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Penny Bynum before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.


(Transcriber) (Date)